Music odyssey from Biscot to Bollywood

ROCKING AROUND THE FLOCK: Vicar of Biscot, Rev Thomas Singh
ROCKING AROUND THE FLOCK: Vicar of Biscot, Rev Thomas Singh

A VICAR is back tending his flock after spending three months recording music with the ‘creme de la creme’ of the Bollywood film industry.

The Rev Thomas Singh, vicar at Holy Trinity Church in Biscot, took a sabbatical to record two albums of gospel music in a Bollywood style, after divine inspiration struck and he suddenly began to write music.

The 48-year-old clergyman was waiting for his daughter to come out of a GCSE exam two years ago when a tune came to him.

“I just felt inspired to write a song – and in five or six minutes I had the lyrics and the tune,” he said.

Rev Singh had no prior experience of writing or reading music, but he hums or whistles his tunes into the dictaphone on his mobile phone, and is learning to play the guitar.

“It just happened and all I can think is that it’s God’s gift to me,” he said.

The tunes just kept coming, and Rev Singh decided he wanted to record the music in the Bollywood capital of Mumbai, and set about raising money to fund the unusual sabbatical.

At the end of January he arrived in the city – home to 28 million people – and began to make contact with producers and musicians.

“It’s an amazing city,” he said. “It took me about a week to get used to it, it’s a real culture shock.

“There are so many people that the traffic is solid all the time, it’s chock a block every day.

“And the shopping malls make the Arndale look very small.”

Rev Singh interviewed about five ‘arrangers’, who took his melodies away and recorded demos.

He settled on Paresh Shah, who then introduced him to musicians and singers, one of whom, Javed Ali, has worked with Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack composer A R Rahman.

“Paresh has been in the industry for 20 years, so he is very well established,” said Rev Singh. “When he phones someone up they don’t refuse him.”

Despite the artists involved being Hindu or Muslim, they were happy to record the gospel songs, and the father-of-four said he was over the moon with the recordings – so much so that he decided to record a version in English, too.

The CDs, called ‘Gospel Bollywood – Journey of a Saviour’ arrived from India last week, and are now available to buy from the church.

“It was just what I wanted,” said Rev Singh. “When I heard the finished product it was so exciting. It surpassed my expectations.”